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Archive for February, 2018

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** My thanks to Anne Cater & Karen Sullivan for my copy of this novel and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…

Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life.

Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-awaited finale of one of the darkest, most chilling and emotive series you may ever read. Someone will be killed. But who?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Henning Juul series was one that I discovered late, frankly too late for it to be acceptable.  I started on book four of the series and absolutely loved everything about the book so went back and bought the previous books to work through at my leisure.  Now I have the final book of the series in my hands, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to this character….

For those not familiar with the writing style of Thomas Enger, allow me to foolishly try to sum it up, gripping, gritty, dark, emotive and spectacular.  There are so many more ways to describe it but I don’t think I can find the perfect words to convey how brilliant it is.

Henning Juul is a man on a mission, he wants to find out who was behind the fire that killed his son and will stop at nothing to find out, even if it means placing his life in the utmost danger.  His role as a crime reporter grants him access to some of the shadiest characters and their secrets, but that’s only if they stay alive long enough to share those secrets with Henning.    I am loathe to say much about the plot of this novel, there are so many clever aspects to it, and Enger has surpassed himself with this book.  Whilst clues are dangled tantalisingly close to you as a reader, you cannot quite see them through the mists and you almost don’t want to guess ahead.  You want to be kept in the dark, you want to see what’s lurking in the shadows of Enger’s mind and see where he plans to take his characters and join them on the thrilling ride.

The prologue at the beginning of the book really pulls a reader in and has them almost wanting to launch the book across the room (please don’t, you will either break your electronic device or your book, and scare any animals around you), it’s powerful stuff and so fantastically written that it makes you hold your breath in anticipation/worry.

I absolutely loved the development of characters in this, and even when I was supposed to dislike a character because of their actions, I couldn’t help but feel some shred of sympathy towards them, kudos to you Mr Enger!  The link between Henning Juul and his ex wife Nora was always going to be a delicate one, they loved one another once, they had a child together, and they suffered his death.  But the way that these two are written is fantastic, their bond is probably stronger after what has happened and instead of ripping them apart, it has almost made them better friends and support for each other.
The rawness of emotion that is woven throughout the plot is what makes this book stand out for me, lies and secrets bring so many things with them, but the emotions attached to them are what makes them more potent and here Enger stamps his mark on Nordic Noir with writing that leeches from the pages, gets under the skin of readers and leaves them feeling so tied to the characters and the story.

An utterly enthralling offering from one of my favourite crime fiction writers, and I would recommend that you do check out the soundcloud link at the back of the book to listen to the beautiful piece of music composed by Thomas Enger, it’s breathtaking!

Alas, now I have to say goodbye to Henning Juul…….*sobs*

You can buy a copy of Killed via:

Wordery
Book Depository
Amazon UK

About the Author:

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndod) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, there are some brilliant reviews and guest posts to read – why not check back on the previous days to catch up on what you might have missed too?  Don’t forget to check out the blog for my co-host Liz Loves Books today!

 

Killed Blog Tour Poster

 

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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

It has been waiting in the dark, Matthew’s history – our history. But now I must turn over the stone: that you might see it, wriggling to escape…

When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that I have had this book on my “to read pile” for some time, almost a year in fact, and part of my taking a break in January from blogging was to allow me to pick up the books that ended up being shunted down the pile as more blog tour reads arrived.  This was one such book that kept slipping down the list and never seemed to get to the top but thankfully one weekend I decided to grab it and see where it would take me.

I love historical fiction, certain eras and settings will just call out to me to read them and this book was one that I was looking so forward to reading.  Based loosely on the life of Matthew Hopkins, a witch hunter in the mid 1600s in England, the reader is presented with a perceptive and thought out account of the barbaric and heinous crimes committed against women under the guise of ridding the country of witches.

Alice Hopkins is the voice of the narrator in this book, and she begins her story from what appears to be confinement, leaving the reader to wonder the reasons for her incarceration and just how she met this fate.  As Alice slowly recounts her tale, we learn that she returned home to Essex following the death of her husband in London.  Newly widowed, she also learns of the death of her mother, and makes the arduous journey to return to the only family she has left in England, her younger brother Matthew.
Painting a rather vivid portrait of Matthew, Alice recounts a close childhood where they were co-conspirators almost.  However, with the passing of time and her absence from the family home, Matthew has become Master of the house and much changed.  Alice almost fears her brother, aware that she is awaiting his return from business with great anxiety.  He offers her no comfort, and indeed the starkness of the Thorn compliments perfectly the lacking of compassion that Matthew shows to his sister.

The horrors of this story occur when Alice becomes fully aware of the witch hunts, Alice almost not wanting to believe that her brother could be involved with this business until it is too late.  Matthew Hopkins was granted permission in law to target women in the country and surroundings, carrying out heinous and torturous acts as a means of detecting witchcraft or verifying that the accused women were in league with the Devil.  The author has done a tremendous job of recreating the panic and ill ease of the period that faced women who stood out for one reason or another.  The frightening realism of the acts has been documented throughout history and having studied this during the course of my time at university I honestly do feel that Beth Underdown does a superb job in her writing.  This however does not make it any easier to read and any less harrowing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is a tremendous book, and one that I think that fans of historical fiction will enjoy.  There is so much more to this book than the plot, there vivid descriptions transport readers to 1600s England, feeling the mud underfoot, smelling the musty air of a closed up house, seeing fear ingrained by the idea that one rumour could be all it takes to cast suspicion and endanger a life….a truly powerful and magnificent read!

You can buy a copy of The Witchfinder’s Sister via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

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Hello and welcome to the first Celebrating Indie Publishing post of 2018!  Yes, it is the first post for this as I took some time out in January to scale the mountainous reading pile before it toppled over and have only posted a few scheduled shares here and there.

Today I am delighted to share a review of a book I stumbled upon last year by chance, it’s one that was previously published by Freight Books and has been picked up by the mighty and amazing Saraband who are publishing some pretty fantastic books this year.  Anyway, enough of my wittering, lets get on to the book….

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** My thanks to Sara at Saraband Books for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Ian McEwan’s Atonement meets Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in this extraordinary debut.

A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life amidst the craters of London’s Blitz, and takes comfort in her family of animals, abandoned pets she’s rescued from London’s streets.

In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness? In Goblin, debut novelist Dundas has constructed an utterly beguiling historical tale with an unforgettable female protagonist at its centre.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment that I heard about Goblin I was intrigued, it sounded like a very different read and one very unlike anything I’ve read before and I wasn’t wrong!  The storyline moves between different times and locations, but always follows our protagonist Goblin who grew began her days in London.

At the beginning of the book there is a scene that will make many readers chuckle, some will screech in horror, but mostly I think they will appreciate the wit of Ben eating his way through Ulysses, and will not give in until he has finished the book.  ‘Old Lady’ affectionately named by Ben, is Mrs G Bradfield, the Reader in Residence in the Edinburgh library who tries to dissuade Ben from his quest to rid the library of the James Joyce book before realising that this is simply something that he must do.  Her acceptance of this is the first instance readers will get of there being more to this character than first meets the eye.
As the time line flicks between 2011 Edinburgh and 1941 London a link between Mrs G Bradfield and Goblin becomes apparent, and I will admit, in the beginning I wasn’t quite sure how these two were connected but soon it becomes apparent that they are the same person.

Goblin, as we get to know the character doesn’t have a name as such, or at least we don’t ever see her being addressed as anything other than Goblin by her family and friends.  Having been rejected by her mother at a young age, she has formed a bond with her dear dog Devil, who she sees as her best friend and confidant.  There is a respectful silence between Goblin and her father, him allowing her to watch as he repaired various electrical items such as radios when she was younger so that as she grew she was able to help him.  But the human who holds the dearest space in her heart is her brother, he is the one that offers her the relationship that she misses out on with their mother.  His care and compassion towards his younger sister is touching and endearing to see, whilst it is true that younger siblings can be testing at times, and the pair do squabble or fall out, they also have a wonderful bond.

As the plot moves on we see that Goblin has invented a world of make believe around herself, trying to find adventure in her surroundings and living in a world of Martians, Nazis and the Lizard People.  Her imagination is powerful, and part of me wonders if this inventiveness was merely a coping mechanism, seeking a bond with something to fill the parental void.  Whilst most children would have outgrown this imaginary world, Goblin instead fully immerses herself in it, regaling those around her of magical tales of the Underworld and the Lizard People, this make believe world forming a shell, a protective bubble around herself to shield her of the horrifying realities of the world around her.

Ever Dundas has recently won the Saltire First Book Award 2017 for Goblin and it is very clear why, this is an incredibly well written novel that is beautifully poignant, and the juxtaposition of abandonment and neglect with humour makes this such a compelling read and the believable characters bring it all to life.
The only negative thing that I have about this book was that it was initially a little confusing when reading, the way that the plot jumps back and forth between the different times did take a little getting used to, and once I’d grasped the style of writing I found it worked so well with the story, it almost felt like the jumps back were perhaps tangents of Goblin’s aged mind lost in thought and reminiscing.  A stunning debut that I would heartily recommend!

‘Mon Team Corporal Pig!!

 You can buy a copy of Goblin via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

 

 

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I am so excited to be able to share the cover of a remarkable book with you today, this has to be one of my highly anticipated reads this year and I’m sure once you see the cover and find out a little more about it you will see why and may be persuaded to check it out too!

A Pattern of Secrets EBOOK COVER FINAL

A Victorian mystery for children, A Pattern of Secrets, is Lindsay Littleson’s third novel and will be published by Cranachan Publishing on 16 April 2018. 

 

Description:

Can the secrets of the past save the future?

The worlds of rich and poor collide in this gripping Victorian adventure as Jim and Jessie unravel the past and its pattern of secrets…

Paisley 1876. 12-year-old Jim has escaped from the Poor House and now he must save his little brother from the same fate.

His only hope lies in a mysterious family heirloom—a Paisley-patterned shawl that has five guineas sewn into its hem—the price of freedom.

Now Jim must find the shawl and break into the big house to steal it back…

But the girl with the red hair is always watching…

You can pre-order a copy via the publisher today

 

The cover from the publisher’s perspective, Anne Glennie:

We really want our authors to love their covers and one of the advantages of being a small publisher is that we can work closely with our authors. From the beginning, Lindsay had been sending me wee pictures, colour ideas and fabric samples – so I started to build up a mental picture quite quickly. We had to have Paisley pattern fabric, including deep purple shades. As the book is a Victorian mystery, the cover needed to suggest this too – so a fancy Victorian font was in order. Then we needed our protagonists, Jessie and Jim and, although the books are historical, we want them to be just as attractive to our readers – so that means no period costumes; silhouettes were perfect for this cover! Then it was simply a case of adding some final touches to hint at the sewing/fabric theming. Luckily, Lindsay loved all of the cover versions I sent her – the hardest job for us was choosing the final one!

 

The cover from the author’s perspective, Lindsay Littleson:

If I had talent in book cover design, I would have designed this cover for A Pattern of Secrets, so thank you, Anne Glennie of Cranachan Books!

During the last year I have bombarded poor Anne with photographs of random items in bright pink, red and purple Paisley patterns. The famous pattern is such an integral part of my story that I was very keen for it to be on the cover in some way, but had no clear idea of how that could be achieved.

Thankfully, Anne is multi-talented, and when she sent me the first cover ideas I was absolutely thrilled by how she’d managed to include Paisley pattern without making the cover look too busy.  The glowing colours are really striking against the black background and the ornate Victorian title font is gorgeous in gold. The little golden thimble and reels of thread give further hints that this is a story set in Paisley’s rich textile past.

Anne produced several stunning covers, some with a single silhouette, but we both decided that having the boy and girl silhouettes on the front cover was vital, as the story is told from the perspective of both children; Jessie, the feisty daughter of a wealthy Paisley shawl manufacturer, and Jim, a homeless boy on a desperate quest to save his family. Their stories are equally important, two separate strands that weave together as Jessie joins Jim in a frantic race against time to solve the mystery of the missing heirloom before his mother and siblings are torn apart.

With such a gorgeous cover, who wouldn’t want this novel on their bookshelf?

About the Author:

Lindsay Littleson has four grown-up (ish) children and lives near Glasgow. A full-time primary teacher, she began writing for children in 2014 and won the Kelpies Prize for her first children’s novel The Mixed Up Summer of Lily McLean. The sequel, The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean, is also published by Floris Books. In 2015 her WW1 novel Shell Hole was shortlisted for the Dundee Great War Children’s Book Prize and she enjoyed engaging in research so much that she was inspired to write another historical novel, A Pattern of Secrets, this time focusing on her local area.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.lindsaylittleson.co.uk
Twitter: @ljlittleson

 

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** My thanks to Robbie at Saraband for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name.

Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a one-week mission in 19th-century Moscow: to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained origins.

But, despite all her accomplishments and good intentions, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. As the body count rises, will she discover in time just who the real villain is?

My Thoughts & Review:

First and foremost, would you take a look at that cover?!  It’s lovely isn’t it?  So eye catching and enchanting!  I am a sucker for a nice book cover, I make no apology for that, I’m merely proving the art departments right when they design a book cover to wow readers.

Anyway, moving on to the book itself, when I first heard about this one it was put to me as “sort of cosy crime, really witty and not really a crime title, although it involves some murders”, well that was enough to grab my attention and I’m really glad I did read it.

We first meet Shona in 19th Century Russia as she attempts to gain an audience with Madame Potapova, a member of the Russian high society when a tragedy occurs.  Through Shona’s narration the reader learns how she came to find herself in 19th Century Russia, a series of interspersed recollections scattered throughout give a interesting insight into this character.
Shona has been tasked with a delicate mission, one that she cannot fail and it all hinges on the fate of a shy heiress who is appearing in Society for the first time since childhood.  Taking to her mission with gusto, Shona dives straight in at the deep end and soon has Russian aristocrats jigging away to the Dashing White Sergeant in an attempt to save the failing atmosphere at the party thrown by Lidia Ivanovna.

There is cosy crime feel to this novel, it has dead bodies and mystery that require someone to puzzle the pieces together for the final “Ah-ha!” moment when the cunning reveal is made.  The way that the plot is structured means that readers can enjoy the mystery as it unfolds, will Shona succeed on her mission, what secrets are being kept by various characters, what are the events that no one must speak of, these are all things that keep the story moving along at a comfortable pace.
The richness of the descriptions used throughout mean that readers get a good feel for the settings and the scenes in this book, the way that Nanny is described did give me a chuckle, got to love a fellow knitter!  But even down to the small details of the parquet flooring, the outfits worn and the highly decorated samovars, it all evokes a great sense of atmosphere and did make me feel like I had been transported.

I did find the style of writing took a little getting used to, it is an intelligently written book that is an enjoyable read.  I especially enjoyed comedy and wit that was liberally dotted around, Shona’s sense of humour and use of Scottish phrases made her a very endearing character.

You can buy a copy of Miss Blaine’s Prefect & The Golden Samovar via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour:

MBP blog tour

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